Updated: Oct 30, 2020
"Honey, I don't think you should eat that considering all the weight you've put on recently."
"How did you lose that much weight?"
"You're tiny. You can eat whatever you want! I gain x pounds just looking at food."
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a comment like this?
It's SO common and normalized in our society for people to comment on your food choices and the size of your body.
But I need for you to hear this:
❗❗❗ It’s never okay to comment on someone’s body size or food choices unless it’s done with consent and from a place of genuine concern (i.e. you think a loved one has an eating disorder and you want to have a heart-centered talk with them about it)
Just because it’s normalized and happens frequently, doesn’t mean it’s helpful or kind.
👇Here are some common situations which might lend themselves to comments on food or your body:
Someone has lost weight
Someone has gained weight
Someone eats “a lot” - resulting in comments like being called "a human garbage disposal or a bottomless pit"
During pregnancy as the baby and belly are growing
After pregnancy when the baby weight isn’t there anymore (to varying degrees)
You’re a guest at someone’s house and the host continually tries to feed you even after you’ve said “no thanks”
You’re eating in the presence of others and comments are made about the food you choose to eat
You’re eating in the presence of others and comments are made about how much food you eat
People make general assumptions and voice them about your health based on how much you weigh or what you look like
People make comments about your willpower and discipline based on how much you weigh or what you look like
👉When people comment on weight loss or weight gain it's often LOADED with (inaccurate) assumptions.
If a person loses weight, there’s often an assumption that it was intentional and/or that it's a good thing. We live in a society that immediately praises weight loss, assumes it was a goal to be achieved, assumes it's something the person wanted and therefore is now happy,
When people comment on weight gain there's almost always an undertone of this being a bad thing, something went wrong, a goal wasn't achieved, or you assume the person must be struggling or unhappy, etc.
Making these assumptions can lead to misunderstanding what's going on in the life of someone you care about.
👉Weight fluctuates for MANY DIFFERENT REASONS and is not always intentional.
Weight loss or weight gain could be the result of:
A mental illness - an eating disorder, stress, depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, bipolar disorder… these are just scratching the surface of different ways a person’s emotional life may be impacting their body
Medications - this is so common. Many medications can increase or decrease a person’s appetite and have other side effects that impact a person’s weight
A change in hormones - anytime, but especially puberty, pregnancy, and menopause
A shift in lifestyle - Sometimes people gain or lose weight just because. They may not be aware of it or may not be striving for it or may not care at all that it happened. Perhaps they transitioned from an active job to a desk job or vice versa. Perhaps they started working from home and no longer had their bike commute. Perhaps they went back to school and are working long hours and studying late into the night. This is natural. Our bodies are going to change and shift over time as our life circumstances do, because we’re not robots. This doesn’t mean someone was intentionally trying to lose weight or has “let themselves go.”
Chronic pain or chronic health conditions - There are MANY invisible illnesses that can impact a person’s ability to move, their digestion, their metabolism, their energy levels, etc.
Weight restoration from an eating disorder - Meaning, a person’s weight gain could be saving their life.
JUST TO NAME A FEW.
This isn't an all-inclusive list which means there's NO WAY TO KNOW why or how a person's weight has changed and if that change has any relevance or meaning to the person's life UNLESS YOU ASK.
And you shouldn't ask unless they've invited you into this part of their life (meaning THEY bring the topic up first) or you have reason to suspect an eating disorder or other serious mental illness.
👉Your praises, judgments, or scoldings could be reinforcing disordered behaviors
If someone is losing weight or gaining weight as a result of their disordered eating behaviors, your comments are fueling the fire. Your comments are speaking directly to their eating disorder voice.
Your comments could be exactly what they needed to hear today to continue engaging in disordered eating behaviors.
How to respond when the comments inevitably occur:
I've got a 14-page guidebook that is FULL of different examples and ways that you can respond to diet-talk or comments on your body and food. To get the full run-down, DOWNLOAD THE GUIDE 👇👇.
Here are a few examples of how you can respond:
✨Shut the conversation down. Make a request. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
"I'd prefer if we didn't talk about other people's bodies when we're hanging out together."⠀
"Thanks for your concern, but I'd rather not discuss this topic."⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
✨Use self-disclosure to help people understand the "behind-the-scenes." ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
"I've actually been going through a rough time recently and I've lost/gained weight due to stress. In the future, I'd prefer if you checked in on my emotional well-being instead of commenting on my appearance."⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
"I've started new a new medication and one of the side effects is weight loss/gain. I think it's important you know that people's bodies fluctuate in size for many reasons... often ones that aren't in our control."⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
✨Talk about the impact of the comment. Try using an "I feel...." statement.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
"When you draw attention to the fact that I'm wearing make up for the first time in a while I feel self-conscious."⠀
"When you're constantly talking about your own weight, I feel insecure and afraid you're judging me too."⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
✨Change the subject.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
"Let's change the subject. I don't think this is a great conversation for family dinner/happy hour/lunch break."⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
✨Reflect back an observation.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
"It seems like you're really worried about what other people eat."⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
"When we hang out, I notice that you comment on my body a lot."⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
👉These are just a FEW of the examples I provide in my "How to Handle Rude Guidebook." If you want this FREE 14 page download immediatelyyyyy, snag it right here!
Remember: your body and your food AREN'T OTHER PEOPLE'S BUSINESS.
Set boundaries and make requests
👉A boundary is "If you do x, I'll do y."
"If you keep commenting on my weight, we're going to need to break up or go to couple's counseling."
"If you don't stop critiquing my food choices at dinner, I'm going to leave the table."
Declaring a boundary keeps the power and control in your hands.
👉A request asks something of someone else.
"Can you please refrain from telling me the sizes of your clothes when we go clothes shopping together?"
"I'd like to request we not discuss calories when we're hanging out together."
Requests give someone else a choice as to whether they want to honor/respect your needs/desires.
👉I recommend, starting out by making a request with your loved ones. Give them a chance to honor your needs and if they're unable to do so or choose to ignore it, then you can set a boundary - meaning YOU take action as a response to something they do.
I hope this was helpful.
REMEMBER: YOUR BODY, YOUR BUSINESS.
Want to stay connected, but don't need the "How to Handle Rude" guidebook?
Sign up for my email list and get my intuitive eating, mental health, and body image support delivered right to your inbox!